Stage set for new act in Spalding

0
Have your say

There may be tears when Polka Dot celebrates its tenth birthday with a show in July.

Yes, it’s a happy occasion: ten years of young people from the district gaining confidence and social skills by singing and dancing their way through shows such as Les Mis and Billy Elliot.

Polka Dot in rehearsals for their tenth anniversary performance. Photo: SG020615-156

Polka Dot in rehearsals for their tenth anniversary performance. Photo: SG020615-156

But for co-directors Darren Maddison and Helen Wright it will also be a poignant occasion because it will mark a parting of the ways.

The Polka Dot Ten Year Celebration at South Holland Centre in Spalding on July 4 is the last performance for the youth theatre in its current format.

After the show, Darren and Helen will bow out from what is now known as Limelight Youth Theatre.

In their place, Becky Tarrant will take over the running of what will be called Polka Dot Dance Academy while Karl Festa operates Spalding Academy of Theatre Arts.

It’s a natural progression for both professional film and TV actor Karl and for Becky, who started out as a student with Polka Dot and has advanced to becoming a qualified dance teacher.

That’s not the end of the story though, because Darren and Helen are going to focus their attention on Polka Dot Pantomimes.

From the moment they put on the first professional pantomime – Darren looking after the creative input while Helen directed – it’s been successful.

Darren, a former professional actor, said: “When we did the first panto we realised quite quickly we were good at it and it was something we enjoyed.”

Rehearsals are well under way for Polka Dot's tenth anniversary show. Photo: SG020615-159TW

Rehearsals are well under way for Polka Dot's tenth anniversary show. Photo: SG020615-159TW

In 2009, the decision was taken to see if they could take their panto to other theatres, and that has just grown and grown to the point where this Christmas Peter Pan is being shown in eight venues.

That’s eight rounds of auditions, whittling around a thousand children to 30 at each theatre, and then organising all the necessary licences and chaperones for every child.

It’s a lot of work, and the reason behind Darren and Helen’s decision to let Becky and Karl take over the youth theatre side of the business.

Darren said: “It’s amazing. I think we are surprised at how it has grown but I think our product is very good.

“We also went on Dragon’s Den in 2011, and we didn’t get any investment but we did get theatres that saw us on the programme and wanted to discuss us going into their venues.

“Once the pantos started growing we realised we needed to split the business.”

Open auditions for this year’s panto will be held at South Holland Centre on Saturday, June 20. Boys and girls aged nine to 18 can audition to be a dancer (10-11.30am) or actor (11.30am-1pm). Download information at polkadotpantomimes.co.uk